Don’t pity me.

dont pity me

It’s a strange experience to have two children graduate to Heaven in just six months time. When we lost Timothy Luke, people were brokenhearted with us, gathered around us and many tried to offer encouraging words. When we announced we were pregnant again, many people said, “we’re really praying with you this time”. Again, they were attempting to encourage and reach out. Upon announcing the death of our Evelyn Ruth, we’ve encountered more silence. Not the kind that says people don’t care, but the kind that says they’re shocked, stunned, and scared. I walk through the halls of my church or the stores in my community and as I pass people, I see their faces. Faces give a lot away. They don’t know what to say and look half terrified to speak at all. It leaves me almost wanting to comfort them, ironically.

I don’t say this to shame anyone or point a finger. Rather, I had an epiphany with the Lord yesterday that brought me great comfort, and I want to share from my vantage point: Please do not pity me. Having to say goodbye to two of my beloved children this year before I even got to hold them in my arms has been agonizing, heartbreaking, and painful beyond belief. But this is the thing- the devil is not going to get the final say here. God made me a covenant promise back in 2009 (one He’s made with all of us in Romans 8:28) that He will work all things for my good. God didn’t kill or take away my babies, but their early graduation to Heaven will be something He uses for His, and my, good.

The trials we have faced in 2015 are not Brett and my first rodeo. In 2009, we nearly destroyed our marriage through selfish, horrible choices. We brought that pain on ourselves and made it easy for the enemy of our souls to come in and bring destruction to our family. However, when I asked God if I should stay with Brett or leave, He promised me that He could work all this for good. This seemed like the most stupid promise ever at the time, but that’s because I had no clue how good God is at what He does! God came in and completely redeemed and restored our marriage as He changed us as individuals from the inside-out. This was truly a miraculous work.

In 2010, we faced hardship with moving all over the country multiple times in just 4 months with two toddlers in tow. In 2012, we faced job loss, homelessness and being completely broke financially for months as we closed the door on Brett’s football career and started anew. We’ve spent the past 3 years enduring growing pains as we’ve developed roots here in Nashville and sought Jesus and His plans for us. None of this has been easy, all of it has come with real cost and hardship, and I have been brought to my knees again and again. I don’t list any of this for sympathy but all of it for His glory. No matter the trials we have faced, when we have found ourselves in the position that we cannot do anything to “fix” our situation ourselves, Jesus has shown up and shown off working it for our good. So as I sift through another trial of life, the premature death of two of my beloved children, I turn to Him with genuine hope for the future. I know He will walk me through this, and somehow, as only He can do, He WILL WORK THIS FOR GOOD.

So don’t pity me. Cry with me, stand with me in prayer, and even be angry with my for the injustice of my children’s deaths. But don’t pity me. I will make it through this because through Jesus I can do all things, and He will strengthen me and make me even more beautiful on the other side.

Romans 5:2-5 New Living Translation (NLT) Bold added by me 🙂
2 Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.

Anger is not my friend- nor is it the enemy.

axe

I am no stranger to grief or miscarriage. Unfortunately, Brett and I have experienced the loss of three of our children. Each one was unique, shocking, painful, heart wrenching, and seemingly unbearable. When our first baby went to Heaven in 2007, I wasn’t yet a Christian and didn’t understand life the way the Bible explains it. I was full of shame, embarrassment and drank to numb myself from all the pain. Having two more of our children graduate to heaven this year, I have dealt with the pain very differently. For one thing, I no longer partner with shame. None of this is my fault and it is also not God’s fault or His will. (If you have a problem with that, we can chat, but maybe wait a couple weeks- or months.) The enemy of my soul came to steal, to kill and to destroy. Only he gets credit for the early death of my children. (John 10:10) The GOOD NEWS is that my Savior, Jesus, came to give life abundantly! This includes promises that God has plans for my life and my children’s lives (Jer 29:11). My baby’s deaths were not God’s plan, but He will work it for good, He has promised us all that in Romans 8:28. So what does this mean as I work through all the stages of grief?

In grieving the loss of my children, its more than likely I will experience Denial and Anger. Its common to want to Bargain with “what if” statements or feel Depressed. The experts say that when we’ve worked through these things, whether it be a short or long process, those of us grieving will eventually reach Acceptance. For me, personally, I seem to be pretty stuck in Anger for the time being. I am angry that we have lost the dreams, hopes and excitement for another child we loved deeply. I am angry I will not get to hold my three babies this side of Heaven. I am angry that in the midst of our prayers, they still passed away. I am angry that Elle and Johnny are hurting and have had to deal with such adult issues at such young ages- TWICE! I am angry that a miscarriage costs so much money (as if the pain and disappointment weren’t painful enough, now I have to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills that I cannot afford- AGAIN!) I am ANGRY! I want my children back, I want our joy and excitement back, and I don’t want to be going through this again. How does this fit in to me being a Christian? Perfectly.

The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26 ‘And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.’ So each day, I am being real with myself and those trusted sources around me and discussing and processing my feelings. I journal, and tell the Lord my troubles and let Him speak His truths back to me. He is, after all, the great Comforter. He reminded me recently that anger is not my friend. Holding it inside will not serve me well. Jesus also lovingly reminded me that there is nothing wrong with my feelings. I need not fear them, run from them, nor deny them. Read the Gospels. Jesus had many feelings that he expressed throughout His time on earth. One of those emotions was anger (check out Matthew 21 or Mark 3:5). If being a Christian means “little Christ” or being like Him, then we are just fine to experience anger that our children have been taken from us. It will not be life for me, however, to let that anger control me. So, daily, I take it to Him. Literally, I pray and give it to him verbally, laying it at the foot of the cross and waiting for the exchange He wants to make.

Sometimes, the emotions get bigger and overwhelming. But the good news is that God can handle it- all of it. While riding home with my mom this week, we were having an emotional discussion where I was lamenting about how hard this all is. That I feel weak, broken, and discouraged. I was crying when we paused the conversation so I could get out of the car and get the mail. I wiped my tears to clear my vision and open my first medical bill for hundreds of dollars. That. Was. It! I was done! The anger went through the roof and I needed to let it out. I walked to our basement, grabbed a hatchet and took out all my anger on a dead tree in the back yard. I screamed, I wailed, I bawled, and hacked away until I lost all steam and fell to the ground in the ugly cry. I felt slightly nuts but mostly relieved. All the big emotions from the past year had become too overwhelming in that moment and a physical release was needed.

I realize that even reading about this may make some uncomfortable. Many of us have been taught that our emotions are bad and that as Christians we are to keep up a facade that we are fine all the time. I want to tear through that lie. Jesus felt all the emotions and did not sin. He was not controlled by His emotions. He turned to the Father in all things and we can do the same. Grief is not pretty, it rarely makes sense, but it is necessary to work through. I am smack in the middle of the process and I feel like a bouncy ball of emotions half the time. All the feelings are big, but they do not control me. I may be heartbroken, but I still have a hope and a future. I know my God is faithful and good. He is kind and loving. He has great plans for me and my family and He will walk us through this. All of it.

Monday, October 5th, 2015

timothy name

Today is the day we would have delivered Timothy Luke via a scheduled c-section. My heart feels sad that I won’t get to hold him, meet him, nurse him, and celebrate him as we introduce him to the world. I wonder what he’d look like as a newborn and I keep imagining he’d have weighed 8lbs 8oz. I am sad Elle and Johnny won’t get to come to the hospital to meet their baby brother today, I won’t get to share pictures of him on social media, and my mom isn’t here to join in on the special occasion. I had dreams for what it would all be like back in January when we started this journey of having more kids. Now, 9 months have passed but we are still in the beginning stages of that dream. Of the past 9 months, I have spent 5 of it really sick and fatigued with first trimesters of pregnancies and the other 4 months mourning the loss of our son. It’s been a heavy 2015 and I am feeling ready for some celebration.

I love that in the midst of grieving and hardship, we have been real with our emotions, never hiding from them but always allowing Jesus to come in and make a trade for life and light. We have also continued to live life and enjoy what we do have. Not in an avoiding or numbing way, but sincerely recognizing that we can be heartbroken and enjoy life simultaneously. I hope we’ve done well to process in a healthy way and have taught Elle and Johnny they need not be afraid of their emotions, nor controlled by them. I hope we’ve shown them what it looks like to partner with Jesus and welcome the Holy Spirit to come minister to our bodies, minds, and spirits in mourning.

Today, we mourn another (and possibly the biggest) milestone we dreamed of with Timothy Luke. Tomorrow, we have our 12 week appointment with the new little gift of life God has blessed us with. Last week I was attacked by fear of all the “what ifs” for this appointment (it was at our 12 week appointment we found out Timothy Luke had no heartbeat 6 months ago). As I journaled with the Lord, Jesus gave me two instructions:
I was to stop meditating on all the “worse case scenarios” and instead dream big and meditate on all the “best case scenarios” (i.e. the desires of my heart).
I am to meditate on the the promise He has spoken to me in this season: THE BEST IS YET TO COME (and trust Him for it!)

As I have chosen to do these things, as I’ve chosen to enter into worship, and as I have been vulnerable and shared my heart with trusted people, the fear has fallen off and I have been filled with renewed hope and joy. So, today, I will give myself space to grieve and tomorrow I will give myself permission to celebrate- even before we hear that perfect and strong 12 week heartbeat!

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Hebrews 11:1